While we've all been in #lockdown I've tried to avoid visiting the shops for anything other than necessary food. I often buy bunches of flowers with my food shop and occasionally go to a local florist, but as I wasn't going to shops selling flowers I decided to set myself the challenge of finding flowers in my garden. My aim with my garden was to have a garden full of flowers that could be cut and brought into the house. Think Sarah Raven, but with less gorgeous clothes. This aim is definitely a work in progress as these plants take a lot of space and cost quite a bit to fill your garden. Our garden is long and very hilly, and has taken a lot of time to sort ourselves. Our biggest project at the moment is a firepit seating area that is made from the broken slabs and concrete blocks lying around. It's all left over from the rubble that was conveyor belted down the hill and dumped. I'm very excited that it is happening, and I'm looking forward to doing some planting around that to give birds a route up the garden, and plenty of bees and butterflies to feed from. But it's very much work in progress and will take time to finish.
In the more conventional part of the garden, I do have some flowers suitable for cutting but the plants are not big enough yet to "crop" them and most of them are summer flowers rather than spring or they look lovely in the garden and as they'll last longer there I don't want to cut them. So most of these jugs of flowers are actually foraged weeds or trimmings from unwanted hedges! It's meant that as different flowers and weeds have budded, flowered and grown, my vases have followed the change from end of spring into summer flowers and I thought I'd share some of them with you here.
At the beginning of April I started with some lovely hellebores from my garden. These all started as seedlings from my father-in-law. Our garden has grown from a building site left over from an extension build 10 years ago to now having a good range of plants in it. It's been a long slow journey because I've done it gradually, adding plants when i see ones i like and feel that there is a gap of colour. Each year I tend to lose plants too - I assumed perennials lasted forever, but some seem to have a shorter life than others and others get better and better.
I love hellebores but they tend to fall over in the garden and you can't see the flowers that well unless they've been supported. This year saw some lovely coloured ones in garden centre social media posts during #lockdown. I definitely want to get more colours for under my shady hedge but will maybe also get some fo those wire supports to put in too so they don't fall over. They don't last long as cut flowers, but are a beautiful colour while they do. They also don't fall over so much and mean you can appreciate them no matter the weather. If you were looking for an excuse to buy one, they fit perfectly in the small blue tit jug.
These lovely scented flowers came from a trimming of a viburnum bush that comes over my wall from my lovely neighbour's garden. My neighbour has trimmed her side and had suggested I could do the same if I wanted. It hadn't been trimmed for years so I filled lots of jugs and vases and my house was full of the gorgeous smell! It's extra lovely as it's one of the few plants that's green and in flower at this time of year. This one is in my large blue tit bone china jug.
I was reading a magazine last week and came across the idea of using young beech leaves in vases. I'd spotted lots of honesty in the overgrown hilly slope at the end of my garden and put these together. I love the slightly translucent quality of the young beech leaves, so delicate and beautiful. The honesty flowers didn't last long, but the seed heads last for ages and are lovely too. These are displayed in the large long-tailed tit bone china jug. There's lots of honesty growing in amongst the nettles at the end of my garden, so I can replace these when they are done. I read a recipe for a lemon and nettle cake yesterday, so maybe I'll pick some more when harvesting some nettle tips - might as well get something good from the rampant nettle crop! I'm also looking at the copper beech tree that comes from next doors garden ...they could look lovely too!
Strong winds yesterday and today means there are lots of bits of trees blown off and around. I don't have a pine tree but I found some lovely pine tree bits were on the ground outside my house. So I added them to the greens and purples in my starling design beaker shown here. It is filled with some bits off my Acer, hellebore seed heads, young beech leaves, honesty seed heads and aubrietia flowers that had escaped from where they were supposed to be.They look lovely in this fine china beaker - it's actually the beaker from our mug2go without it's lid and sleeve. I've had a batch of seconds arrive without lids and sleeves, so have popped them on the sale page of my website as seconds vases.
The strong winds helped with this jugful too. The leylandiai bits were found in my garden and I collected ground elder leaves, creeping buttercups, and yellow poppies from the end of the garden. I nearly collected some dandelion heads too but couldn't quite bring myself to do that as they quickly turn to seed. Isn't it amazing how lovely a bunch of weeds can look! I know buttercups don't last long - but you can always pick more. This is definitely 'flowers for nothing'!
My front garden is a work in progress. Aquilegia has self seeded all over it, along with ladys mantle and dandelions. They are a nice flash of colour in a small puffin jug and paired with the purple of the Acer leaves. I had hoped to get out there to do some drawings of them this weekend but the heavy rain and driving winds will probably have ruined them and certainly puts me off even attempting to draw outside! Hopefully some will have survived so I can continue to fill jugs with them in the house.
Hopefully that's given you some ideas for how you can fill your house with jugs and vases of flowers for very little cost - other than the vase of course! And with the changing seasons, keep an eye out for more flowers to try!